Students on a Mission


On May 6th, our Social Justice (elective) class, led by teacher Dominic Altieri, visited the SF/Marin Food Bank.  It was not only fun but left us with a good feeling knowing we helped people who are hungry get a meal.

The Food Bank is quite a spectacle. It is a Costco-like warehouse containing over two million pounds of assorted food, both produce and dry. The Food Bank’s goal is to provide fresh, healthy food to those who lack the resources to acquire it. We worked with the Food Bank employees and with others who were there volunteering for a good cause.

First, we bagged rice. It was a five step process, and of course we had to learn how to do it first: how to operate each station, and how the Food Bank works. The entire time we were there we had to wear hairnets; we had to wear gloves, too, when we handled the rice. The process included scooping rice into a bag, weighing it, sealing the bag, adding a sticker for distribution, and putting it in a box. The boxes are shipped to smaller food banks elsewhere.  We worked for awhile, taking turns at different stations, and then took a break. People ate, drank, conversed, and rested their feet. There was a vending machine, but us children didn’t get to use it!  In the end, we bagged around 1,200 pounds of rice.

After a ten-minute break we packed oranges. A Food Bank employee explained that they get the “rejected” oranges—fruit deemed too odd or too large. Wasting food just because it’s funny looking is insane, right?  We separated the good oranges from the squishy or moldy ones and packed many boxes to the brim with delicious oranges. We ended up packing almost 10,000 pounds of oranges!

It was an enlightening experience. We got to see the process of packing food, and we learned how bags are sealed. More important, we learned that one in four people—or 1,750,000 total—are hungry in the Bay Area. Hopefully, in our two hours of community service we helped put a dent in that number, and we want to go back soon. We hope that the SF/Marin Food Bank will continue helping those in need until everyone can go home knowing they have a meal waiting for them.

–by Synergy seventh graders Ian Doyle and Nico Fleming; photos by Dominic Altieri 


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